Address by Brian D'Arcy at DFI's Budget 2024 event hosted by Senator Tom Clonan in the Oireachtas AV Room

September 28 2023, 11:30am


The following is an address by Brian D'Arcy at a DFI event hosted by Senator Tom Clonan in the Oireachtas AV Room on Thursday 28 September 2023. Brian D’Arcy is Rehab Advocacy Representative.  He was speaking about the cost of disability and the needs of persons with disabilities as we approach Budget 24: 

Hello everyone, thank you for having me speak here today. My name is Brian Darcy. I am 24 years old. Before I talk to you about the issues people with disabilities need the Government to address, I am going to tell you a little about myself. I am from Galway and I am a person who lives with being multiply neuro-divergent, I have autism and dyspraxia and at times I require support with my mental health. For me consistency is key, for example one support I find invaluable is that of my social worker. While the doctors change regularly, my social worker has been consistent and it has been of great benefit to my health. I attend RehabCare in Galway. They support me to be more independent. For example, they supported me to plan being here today.

Since joining RehabCare, I have worked hard to move forward with my life. I completed my leaving certificate and a number of courses. I am keen to learn and enjoy studying new things, currently I am working on courses on Irish, Intellectual Disability and Advocacy, to name but a few.  I will start a CE scheme as a youth worker next Monday. I was disadvantaged myself growing up, I understand how it feels. I believe this can make a difference.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk to you about the changes we need to see to ensure that a person with a disability participates in society, in Ireland today as an equal citizen.

Firstly, we need to address the cost of living for a person with a disability in Ireland today. While I live at home, some of my peers live independently, they regularly recount how difficult it is to live on their own. Bills such as electricity are a constant worry and present big challenges on fixed incomes.

While the one off payments for people on disability allowance were very welcome and helped some people off set the increased cost of living. More needs to be done. The increased cost of living is still a huge burden and stress on people. Having to choose between food and fuel is not something anyone should have to do. They are necessities not luxuries. The Government needs to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are looked after properly.

While we welcome a review of disability payments by the Department of Social Protection, we need to ensure that people are not further marginalised and that life is not made more difficult as a result of whatever changes will be implemented.

Transport is a huge issue for people with disabilities. The lack of local link and transport services across rural Ireland has a huge impact on people’s ability to engage with their local communities.  

Many of my fellow service users don’t meet outside of their service because they simply cannot afford to pay for transport. They live in rural areas that are not properly serviced by public transport. People do not have the disposable income to pay for taxi’s. For example, I have friends living in Clifden, there is no transport available to them after 6 in the evening, which means they have to be home before evening, no opportunity to socialise or access education in the evenings.

The additional costs of healthcare continue to be a pressure that people with disabilities have to endure. People with disabilities rely heavily on their medical cards to cover the cost of their medical bills. But they continue to be charged for blood tests, medical certificates or letters by the GP. This is more expense that people on Disability Allowance have to absorb. More needs to be done to make sure that the medical card covers the cost of all medical expenses.

Education and access to jobs for people who want to work, should be a top priority for Government, if they want to meaningfully improve the lives of people with disabilities. Ireland’s employment rates for people with disabilities is too low.

Services such as Employability are excellent but the waiting times to access their supports are too long and the access pathways are unclear. Disability Awareness and increased supports are vital to the success of such schemes and pathways. This is my experience in accessing such schemes. It was a frustrating process and it is essential they are reviewed and made more user friendly.

Finally, I would like to touch on housing. I am on the housing list in Galway. Even getting on the list is difficult. Without support I could not have completed the application form. The housing list is quite long in Galway with people waiting over 10 years for a house. Anyone who lives alone or has additional needs may see this wait time increase substantially. This has a knock on effect on people’s independence and quality of life.

Thank you for your time.

Brian D'Arcy